MenuCountryPeopleMusic

Osibisa

Ghana Famous People

Osibisa 0657
Date of Birth:
N/A
Place of Birth:
London, England

Osibisa is a Ghanaian Afro-Rock band, founded in London in 1969 by four expatriate African and three Caribbean musicians. Their music is a fusion of African, Caribbean, jazz, funk, rock, Latin, R&B, and highlife.

Osibisa were the most successful and longest-lived of the African-heritage bands in London, alongside such contemporaries as Assagai, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Demon Fuzz, and Noir, and were largely responsible for the establishment of world music as a marketable genre.

History

In Ghana in the 1950s, Teddy Osei (saxophone), Sol Amarfio (drums), Mamon Shareef, and Farhan Freere (flute) played in a highlife band called The StarGazers. They left to form The Comets, with Osei's brother Mac Tontoh on trumpet, and scored a hit in West Africa with their 1958 song "(I feel) Pata Pata."

In 1962, Osei moved to London to study music on a scholarship from the Ghanaian government. In 1964 he formed Cat's Paw, an early "world music" band that combined highlife, rock, and soul. In 1969 he persuaded Amarfio and Tontoh to join him in London, and Osibisa was born.

Joining them in the first incarnation was Grenadian Spartacus R (bass); Trinidadian Robert Bailey (keyboard); Antiguan Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and lead vocalist); and Nigerians Mike Odumosu and Fred Coker (bass guitar) and Lasisi Amao (percussionist and tenor saxophone).

The band spent much of the 1970s touring the world, playing to large audiences in Japan, Australia, India, and Africa. During this time Paul Golly (guitar) and Ghanaians Daku Adams "Potato" and Kiki Gyan were also members of the band. In 1980 Osibisa performed at a special Zimbabwean independence celebration, and in 1983 were filmed onstage at the Marquee Club in London.

Changes in the music industry, however (punk and disco primarily) meant declining sales for the band, and a series of label changes resulted. The band returned to Ghana to set up a recording studio and theatre complex to help younger highlife musicians. In the 1990s their music was widely anthologized in many CD collections, most of them unauthorized and paying no royalties whatsoever to the band.

In 1996 Osei reformed the band, and many of their past releases began coming out legally on CD. The revitalized band remains active, although Osei has cut back his touring schedule due to the effects of a stroke.

Osibisa had an energetic performance in India, at the November Fest 2010 on 28 November 2010 at the Corporation Kalaiarangam in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

The name Osibisa was described in lyrics, album notes, and interviews as meaning "criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness" but it actually comes from "osibisaba" the Fante word for highlife.

Their style influenced many of the emerging African musicians of the time and even now, as Ace Ghanaian hip-hop music producer Hammer of The Last Two stated that his debut production, Obrafour's Pae Mu Ka album, the highest selling hiplife album to date was inspired by a single song ("Welcome Home") by Osibisa. He also had the chance to work with Kiki Gyan a few days before his death.

Their first two albums featured artwork (and logo) by famed progressive-rock artist Roger Dean (before he became famous for his artwork), depicting flying elephants which became the symbol for the band. The third album, Heads, features a cover by Mati Klarwein, famed for his covers for Santana (Abraxas) and Miles Davis (Bitches Brew).

Osibirock features "Negro Attacked by a Jaguar" (1910) by Henri Rousseau. Playing on the original flying elephant's theme, the Ultimate Collection set features elephants with tank turrets for heads. In 2009, their Osee Yee album featured the flying elephants once more, this time painted by Freyja Dean (Dean's daughter). Roger Dean's logo for the band continues to be used on every release.

Allegations regarding Kiki Djan

Following the death of keyboardist Kiki Djan, his daughter Vanessa Sullivan Djan, in an interview she granted a local newspaper RazzPaper, stated “They betrayed him! If I’m your friend and I’m into some form of immorality and you watch me go on with it till I crush, that is a form of betrayal! Kiki wrote many songs when he was part of Osibisa but they never gave him credit for that.

That was another betrayal”. Teddy Osei, who refuted the reports said in an interview with Let’s Talk Entertainment (LTE) on JoyNews on MultiTV, the group took care of Kiki, who joined the band at age 18, until his death in 2004.

Musicians

Saxophone: Teddy Osei (1937– )

Trumpet: Mac Tontoh (born Kweku Adabanka Tonto, 1940–2010), Colin Graham, Kenny Wellington

Flute: Abdul Loughty Lasisi Amao ( –1988)

Trombone: Abdul Remiola

Percussion, congas: Kofi Ayivor, Nii Tagoe, Darko Adams 'Daku' Potato (1932–1995), Dinesh Pandit

Drums: Solomon "Sol" Amarfio (1938– ), KB, Frank Tontoh, Remi Kabaka, Robert Fordjour

Keyboards: Robert Bailey, Bessa Simons, Kwame Yeboah (1977– ), Chris Jerome, Emmanuel Rentzos, Errol Reid, Kiki Gyan (a.k.a. Kiki Djan 1957–2004), Jean Rousell

Guitars: Kari Bannerman, Gregg Kofi Brown, Wendell "Dell" Richardson, Tony Etoria, Paul Golly ( –1977), Gordon Hunte, Kwame Yeboah (1977– ), Jake Solo, Robert Abia Moore, Matola, Winston Delandro

Bass guitar: Spartacus R (born Roy Bedeau, 1948–2010), Mike Odumosu, Fred Coker, Victor Mensah, Herman Asafo-Agyei, Gregg Kofi Brown, Jean-Karl Dikoto Mandengue (1948– ), Abia Moore, Dino Walcott

Vocals: Gregg Kofi Brown, Teddy Osei, Emmanuel Rentzos, Wendell Richardson, Pamela Carter, Desiree Heslop

The original line-up consisted of Teddy Osei (saxophone, flute, and vocals), Mac Tontoh (trumpet and background vocals), Sol Amarfio (drums and backing vocals), all three from Ghana, Loughty Lassisi Amao (congas, percussion, and horns), from Nigeria, Robert Bailey (keyboards), from Trinidad, Spartacus R (bass), from Grenada, and Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and vocals) from Antigua; together they were also known as "the beautiful seven".

The first to exit officially was Spartacus R, who was replaced numerous times, once by the bassist of the group called Assagai and a few times by Jean Mandengue and others. Amao left and was replaced by Kofi Ayivor, who was replaced by Potato but returned to the group later. Richardson left in 1972 and returned in 1975 and henceforth "Welcome Home" and "Sunshine Day". Bailey was replaced by Kiki Gyan before "Sunshine Day"?s release.

Richardson was replaced a few times by Kari Bannerman. Black Welsh guitarist Tony Etoria, who had a hit in 1977 with "I Can Prove It", joined on guitar in the early 1980s.

Discography

971 – Osibisa – (Billboard Hot 200 No. 55 – UK No. 11 – Can.#49, AUS #13)

1971 – Woyaya – (Billboard No. 66 – UK No. 11 – Can.#61, AUS #15) - Although conventionally spelled Woyaya, the title is actually W?yaya (with an open-o), which comes from the Ghanaian Ga language.

1972 – Heads – (Billboard No. 125 – Can.#86, AUS #19)

1973 – Superfly T.N.T. Soundtrack (Billboard #159)

1973 – Happy Children (Billboard #202, AUS #46)

1974 – Osibirock (Billboard #175, AUS #6)

1975 – Welcome Home (Billboard #200, AUS #75)

1976 – Ojah Awake

1980 – Mystic Energy

1980 – Celebration

1981 – African Flight

1989 – Movements

1990 – African Criss Cross

1997 – Monsore

2003 – African Dawn, African Flight

2004 – Wango Wango

2009 – Osee Yee

Live albums

1977 – Black Magic Night: Live at the Royal Festival Hall

1983 – Unleashed

1984 – Live at The Marquee

1998 – Live at Cropredy

2001 – Aka Kakra

2005 – Blue Black Night

Unauthorised albums

1992 – Africa We Go Go

1992 – Uhuru

1992 – The Warrior

1992 – Ayiko Bia

1992 – Jambo

Compilations

1972 – Spirits Up Above

1973 – Best of Osibisa AUS #88

1992 – Gold

1992 – Celebration: The Best of Osibisa

1992 – Criss Cross Rhythms

1994 – The Very Best of Osibisa

1997 – Hot Flashback Volume 1

1997 – Sunshine Day: The Very Best of Osibisa

1997 – The Ultimate Collection (2 CDs)

1999 – The Best of Osibisa

2001 – Best of V.1

2001 – The Very Best of Osibisa (3 CDs)

2002 – Millennium Collection

2002 – Best of Osibisa

2008 – Selected Works

2008 – Sunshine Day: The Hits

2009 – The Very Best of Osibisa

2015 – Singles As, Bs & 12 Inches Box Set (4xCD)

Contributing artist

2013 – The Rough Guide to African Disco

Singles

1971 – "Music for Gong Gong"

1972 – "Wango Wango"

1972 – "Ana Bo 1"

1972 – "Move On"

1973 – "Prophets"

1973 – "Happy Children"

1974 – "Adwoa"

1974 – "Who's Got The Paper"

1975 – "The Warrior"

1975 – "Sunshine Day" (UK #17)

1976 – "Black Ant"

1976 – "Dance the Body Music" (UK #31)

1976 – "The Coffee Song"

1977 – "The Warrior"

1977 – "Black Out"

1978 – "Living Loving Feeling"

1980 – "Jumbo"

1980 – "Celebration"

1980 – "Oreba"

1980 – "I Feel Pata Pata"

1982 – "Move Your Body"

1985 – "Wooly Bully"

1996 – "Sunshine Day (radio edit)"

1997 – "Dance The Body Music"

1999 – "Survival"

Videography

1983 – Warrior (VHS) (recorded 5 April 1983 at the Marquee Club, London)

2003 – Osibisa – Live (DVD Plus) (same show as above)

2012 – Live from the Marquee Club (same show as above)

Literature

Lloyd Bradley, Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital, 2013. (Contributors)

Charles Aniagolu: Osibisa – Living In The State Of Happy Vibes And Criss Cross Rhythms. Victoria (CDN): Trafford Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-4120-2106-5.

Brigitte Tast, Hans-Jürgen Tast be bop – Die Wilhelmshöhe rockt. Disco und Konzerte in der Hölle, Verlag Gebrüder Gerstenberg GmbH & Co. KG, Hildesheim, ISBN 978-3-8067-8589-0.